When bookseller Ed Thomas received a phone call from best-selling author Dean Koontz of Orange last fall inviting him and his wife, Pat, out for dinner that night, Thomas should have been tipped off that something was up.
The Thomases, who own Book Carnival in Orange, had become good friends with Koontz over the years and they frequently go out to dinner with him and his wife, Gerda. But Koontz, the prolific thriller writer dubbed "the Master of Menace," is not one to do things on the spur of the moment.
At dinner, Koontz presented the Thomases with an advance galley proof of his latest suspense thriller, "Midnight," which he had autographed. After Pat Thomas read the inscription, Koontz told her to look above the inscription, at the dedication:
"To Ed and Pat Thomas of the Book Carnival who are such nice people that sometimes I suspect they're not really human but aliens from another, better world."
"I was shocked and elated," said Ed Thomas. "There's something about seeing your name in a book. Within a few minutes you start realizing your name is going to be in every copy of the book that's published. It boggles your mind, and especially with the way Dean is selling, I figure there's going to be a lot of copies of the book sold."
Indeed, it looks as though Koontz may have another best-seller on his hands.
Book Carnival, which is hosting an autograph party for Koontz from 1 to 4 p.m. today, received a large shipment of books to sell at the signing. And in less than 2 weeks, the small mystery and science-fiction speciality bookstore at 870 N. Tustin Ave. had already sold 102 copies of "Midnight."
If past Koontz book signings at Book Carnival are any indication, his fans can count on a long wait in line today.
Koontz, in fact, holds the shop record. When he did a signing at the store last fall for his new children's book, "Oddkins," he began autographing books at 1 in the afternoon and, because the line was so long, he didn't finish until 7:15. In fact, he returned the next day and signed for another 6 hours. In all, Thomas sold 500 copies of "Oddkins."
Lest Koontz's fans be bored in line this time around, a magician had been hired to keep the crowd entertained.
As for the dedication to the Thomases, Koontz said he normally dedicates his books to friends. With a laugh, he said this is the first time that he has dedicated a book to friends who also happen to be booksellers.
"My wife," he noted, "has received more dedications than anyone, not because she's my wife, but because she is my best friend."
Book Signing: Anaheim author Valerie King will sign copies of her new Regency romance, "A Daring Wager," from 1 to 3 p.m. today at Sunshine Books, 8898 Valley View St., Buena Park.
Read Aloud: Jim Trelease, author of "The Read-Aloud Handbook," will discuss "reading aloud: motivating children to make books into friends, not enemies" at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the main auditorium at the First Christian Church of Huntington Beach, 1207 Main St.
The lecture, in which Trelease will also discuss the influences of excessive television viewing, is being sponsored by the Huntington Beach Public Library and the Friends of the Children's Library. Tickets are $2 per person and should be purchased in advance from the library. Information: (714) 848-7813.
Author Festival: More than 40 authors and illustrators of children's literature, who will be speaking at schools in the Huntington Beach and Ocean View School districts during the day, will gather at the Huntington Beach Central Library from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday to meet their fans and sign autographs.
Among those scheduled to appear are John Archambault ("Knots on a Counting Rope"), John Reynolds Gardiner ("Stone Fox"), Patsy Garrett ("A Walk with Mr. Peeps") and Adrienne Jones ("The Hawks of Chelney").